Three years ago, Berkeley Heights held the first of many Winter Walks. When I heard about the plans, I was so excited to attend. My birthday is in December, and I find this to be the most wonderful time of the year. I knew I would run into students and families from the past and the present.  I am thankful that I am raising my sons in Berkeley Heights.  It was important to me because this magnificent community has always made us feel welcome. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with cancer around the same time as the first Winter Walk. My heart was heavy and my sons were sad. In addition to mom being sick, they would miss the event we had been talking about for  weeks.

As fate would have it, Berkeley Heights had another plan for my story.

Berkeley Hardware was kind enough to let my brother host a holiday table.  My story was on display next to Elsa, the Frozen princess! The table was covered in Christmas lights, and the display poster was a thank you from me to the community that included many ways they had helped me in the two short months since my diagnosis. It featured several of my students that held a bake sale in my honor. It mentioned Mark Pergola, my former student who designed the Silver Liming bracelets that were on display for the Winter Walk.  It even mentioned Abby, my student who donated her tooth fairy money to help with my medical expenses.

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It took longer for me to battle the cancer than I anticipated. This December was the first year I was healthy enough to attend the Winter Walk. It was breathtaking, and a huge physical accomplishment for me.

As I strolled down Springfield Avenue holding the hand of my four-year-old niece, Ashley, I was in awe.

We stopped at Delicious Heights for her balloon snowman. We traveled to Pearly Whites where she decorated cookies with the most elaborate toppings possible. I took her ice-skating at Peak Medical.

The highlight for her was in front of the new birthday party center across from Devour.  She left there with a purple tiara and magic wand.  My heart was brimming with town pride.

And then, without warning, I stumbled upon Frosty, the seven foot balloon man. Immediately I recognize the artwork of my former student, Chris Tribuna. The event was a culmination of brilliant minds mixed with amazing talent and mounds of creativity.  I was grateful to be healthy enough to attend my first ever Winter Walk. I'm looking forward to next year.

Well done, Berkeley Heights.